The downside of upgrades

Common wisdom holds that the most traumatic changes in a person’s life are moving, divorce, and death. Clearly something’s missing here—upgrading your operating system.

I’ve been working at Mac magazines now for 9 years (since System 7.5.5 and the PowerMac 7600 ). Needless to say, I’ve upgraded my OS many a time. On each occasion I’ve had access to the best help information available, but none of that takes the pain out of the process. Tiger has been no exception.

Tuesday marked day two of my Tiger tribulations. I completed no work (except writing this blog entry). Actually I haven’t even finished upgrading. I was just so happy to successfully load Microsoft Office on my new system that I decided to take a break to write.

It’s true that my upgrade process isn’t as straightforward as it is for most Mac users. I need to boot into both Tiger and Panther so I can test Macworld’s Help Desk tips, which meant partitioning a very full hard drive. Yesterday I dutifully backed up my Documents folder, my Library, and my Desktop and proceeded to launch a program that can partition a drive without erasing it—Coriolis Systems’ iPartition.

Not surprisingly, iPartition can’t partition the drive you’re working on, so I spent at least an hour loading Tiger and iPartition onto my external Firewire drive. That’s when the trouble began. Try as I might, I couldn’t make the program partition my computer’s hard drive. A trip to the iPartition FAQ showed that a Tiger update isn’t yet available.

That meant I had to destroy all my data in the process of partitioning. Oh boy. I work remotely, so it’s not possible for Macworld ’s crack team of IT people to sweep in and reload all my applications for me. Perhaps I could back my applications up too, using the popular Bombich Software’s Carbon Copy Cloner ? Alas, I discovered that my external drive was too small and Carbon Copy Cloner wouldn’t back up my files to the magazine’s servers.

By late afternoon I realized I was going to have to erase and reload everything. That’s all I’ve been doing since. I’ve experienced the regular comedy of errors—a corrupted keychain file, lost VPN settings, an installation CD jammed in my CD drive. (Ever try to get a CD out of an iMac G5? Yes, I tried ejecting from the Finder, the keyboard, and from the open firmware screen. It’s still in there.)

Upgrading to a new operating system has gotten easier over the past decade. But I still look forward to the day when I can boot into my new OS for the first time without needing an aspirin and a stiff drink.

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